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Women, children killed in US phosphorous attack on Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this file picture, a pair of US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles flies over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria. (Photo by Reuters)

The US-led coalition has once again fired white phosphorus munitions on Dayr al-Zawr province in eastern Syria, reportedly killing and injuring women and children.

Syrian sources say the Sunday night’s airstrikes targeted the town of Baghuz, the last Daesh stronghold in the Arab country.

The attacks came after the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced they had resumed operations against Daesh militants in Baghuz, following a break for citizens' evacuation.

According to state Syrian broadcaster Ikhbarya, citing local sources, the phosphorus shelling occurred Sunday night and claimed the lives of several locals, including women and children. Some civilians were also injured.

The flashpoint town is located in the eastern Euphrates River region.

The US-led coalition had used phosphorous in its earlier bombing raid against the same town on Friday night, targeting the farmlands of Baghuz in the volatile province.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.

The coalition has repeatedly denied using white phosphorus in its airstrikes. In response to previous allegations, the Pentagon maintained that munitions used by the US in Syria complied with all international norms.

On November 5 last year the US-led warplanes used white phosphorus bombs against Hajin, located some 110 kilometers east of the provincial capital city of Dayr al-Zawr, Sana reported.

On October 13, SANA also reported that the US-led coalition had dropped internationally-banned white phosphorus bombs on Hajin. On September 8, two F-15 warplanes of the US Air Force targeted the same Syrian town with white phosphorous bombs.

In June 2017, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned that the US-led coalition was deploying white phosphorous bombs in both Iraq and Syria.

Daesh has nowhere left to go

Five years after Daesh swept across Syria and Iraq, all that remains of the “caliphate” that at its peak stretched across two countries and controlled 10 million people is a handful of streets in a bend of the Euphrates river running through the desert town of Baghuz, which will be retaken in the next few days.

Trapped from the east and the west by advancing SDF and by the Syrian army and Russia on the other side of the river, the self-proclaimed caliphate is a hellscape of smoke and fire. There is nowhere left for the fighters to go.

Between 1,000 and 1,500 men are believed to be still inside the riverside pocket, along with an unknown number of women and children.

Even though some of its last fighters are children or injured, Daesh is refusing to go quietly from its last redoubt. In the first 24 hours of the renewed campaign, snipers and IEDs killed three SDF soldiers and injured another seven.

The extremists have turned to suicide attacks using cars, motorbikes and even bicycles, also lacing the tunnels they are using to hide in with IEDs. According to commanders of the operation, the group is continuing to use civilians as human shields against airstrikes.

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